That could, however, change with the introduction of the EV version. The Spark EV will arrive as a 2014 model and will be on display at the LA auto show.
Compared to the 84 hp power plant in the gasoline version of the Spark, the EV will pack a 130 hp electric motor. It appears that the EV version will be the much more desirable car to own with a 0-60 mph time of under 8 seconds and 400 lb-ft - compared to just 83 lb-ft in the gasoline version. Of course, there are some downsides.
First, the driving range is that of an EV - don't expect much more than 70 miles from the 20 kWh battery. A full charge from a 240 volt outlet will take 7 hours, but you can opt for a fast charger that fills the battery by 80 percent within 20 minutes. For the purpose of getting around town, that may be plenty for most of us. Second, there is the price: it will be close to $25,000, including the $7,500 tax credit, which you will, of course, have to come up with in the first place.
Third, even if it is not a cheap small car, and the $12,000 or so premium over a base Spark can buy a lot of gasoline, the EV is really a barebones vehicle for very basic needs. If you are looking for more luxury, there are some other pricier options out there, including BMW's i3 electric car, which will also be on display as a near-production version in LA. However, the compact i3 is not a big car either and will be priced close to a 3-series sedan, which, in today's market, suggests at least $40,000 and likely more than $50,000 if BMW is comparing the i3 to the 3-series hybrid.
People with the money to purchase a $40,000 car are not going to consider a base model EV. Or if they buy it, it is just to say that they have an EV and they never drive it, which is way more wasteful than just buying a gas guzzler in the first place.
On the other end of the spectrum are people like me who would love an EV, or super high mileage commuter car. The problem I am running into is that the EVs have 0 features, but a high price tag, while the 40mpg commuter cars have a ton of features, but with a lower but still relatively high price tag. Even with $5/gal gas you would never see a break-even point on an EV compared to a similarly featured gas car right now. It completely defeats the point for the end user, and limits it to the rich and the idealistic.
Tesla has it right. Build a freaking sweet car with an electric motor, and then price it similar to other cars with similar feature sets. Get the tech in the hands of those who will use it, this will create demand, which will get more cars on the road and built, which will get the manufacturing better and cheaper, and then a few years down the road we can have relatively cheap $20,000 electric cars perfect for day commutes (something Tesla is also working on).
And screw the environment, electric cars are not going to save the environment/trees/whales/children/etc. We need to get off oil and onto electricity for other reasons. We can produce electricity any number of ways, and if one way fails to pan out then we can move to a different medium to make power. With gas we are stuck with one medium, and will therefore help fund the crazies in the world that try and dictate oil prices. So gas ties us to oil (or synthetic gas via coal), where as electricity can be found with anything that can burn, or solar, kinetic energy (hydro). The sheer number of options will ensure that prices stay low because there can be competition between mediums.
You are partially right, but you miss a lot of points. No, electric cars are not going to solve all environmental problems, but cars are a huge contributor due to their being a huge consumer of oil, so getting people off a gasoline car and into an EV is the best course of action. As for the Tesla, the problem with it is that it's not that great. It gets a lot of press for being an electric sports car, but like your own example shows, people who can afford one are more apt to be able to afford the gas that goes with a better car for the same price category. Yes, most "affordable" EVs are actually fairly expensive, but they aren't "overpriced" since they are usually sold at very low to negative margins. The basic fact is that an EV battery is a very expensive piece of equipment, and account almost entirely for the difference in price from the gasoline equivalent. And unfortunately what is most aerodynamic is not always the prettiest to look at.
Now, a little math. Assuming 20 total miles a day for travel to and from work and the store or what have you, at the current national average of $3.29 a gallon, and a 40mpg car, that is about $600 a year (assuming gas never goes back up, your car never drops below 40mpg or somehow spikes above it, and you maintain a yearly average of about 7300 miles). It will take a while for an EV to recoup the price over a gasoline car. But again, a major part of that is because the battery and other tech is very expensive. It's the real reason battery powered cars died the first time around.
Push it now, because if you wait it'll just be more expensive then. Get the tech out there, get it used, have the kinks worked out and production standardized, and then the price comes down. The premium shrinks to near nothing. We need to think of these cars in the same vein as computers. Ram used to be ridiculously expensive, until enough use and pressure brought the price down. Give it some time.
Monthly payment + gas = ____
Monthly payment + charge = ____
If at the end of the day, I will buy the car that cost me less per month to own and run. When see car that are over 15k the gas option tends to look better. This is why some have said that gas needs to be taxed more so ppl will be forced into EVs.
Volkswagen Golf R32 TDI/Hybrid. That way I'll get AWD & excellent fuel economy.
Or an AWD MK1 Rabbit TDI :-D
I'm not opposed to new car technology, but I don't want to take too many steps backward either. My other issue is that I will NOT drive a car that doesn't have an H pattern shifter and a clutch pedal. I tried automatics before and hated it. I couldn't wait to go back.